Key Considerations for Enterprise Unified Communications

With such a variety of unified communications (UC) services now available, enterprise IT managers and telecom directors need to consider a whole host of factors to choose the best option. Let's take a look first at what unified communications can do for your enterprise, and then consider some of the key decision points you may need to address when selecting a UC system or provider.

Starting with the Basics

Unified communications technology enables users to communicate in either real time or non-real time, switching seamlessly from one form of communications to another -- for example, sending an instant message to someone who just left a voicemail. Systems for unified communications also enable users to collaborate more easily across an organization, from department to department, and from one location to multiple others.

Enabled by both the Internet and the cloud, today's UC systems can integrate numerous communication services -- everything from phone calls and voicemail to e-mail, instant messaging and video conferencing -- all via a single network.

A Growing, Evolving Market

Once limited to on-site PBX telephony systems, businesses today have more choices than ever when looking to update their phones and communication services. In a recent report on the UC market, Infonetics analyst Diane Myers noted that the market for UC cloud services is continuing to grow, as businesses worldwide seek out hosted alternatives to their traditional phone systems.

Infonetics predicts that the global cloud-based PBX and UC market will reach $12 billion by 2018. With UC services increasingly available either through on-site deployment or hosting in the cloud, businesses need to consider a variety of factors before deciding which route is best for them.

Consider the Costs

When looking at the costs to upgrade or install a new UC system, one important consideration that UC provider ShoreTel suggests is whether you prefer to treat IT as...

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